Cookies Day 3: Pistachio and Cherry Mexican Wedding Cakes

Today was a big day today. Today, I got a job.

A job.

The only thing that would make it more perfect: if I was getting paid.

So yes, I have an unpaid internship, but it is a job. It gets me out of the apartment, gets my mind working again, AND it’s doing something I love. I get to rewrite books published for professionals and students, draft online magazine articles, possibly publish under my own name, and all in the tax field. Specifically, partnership tax, nonprofit and tax exempt organizations, and estate planning for wealthy individuals.

And guess where I get to work? The Watergate Complex. Personally, I think that’s pretty cool.

If you are just happening across this blog, you don’t know the immense struggle I have been facing since earlier this spring in trying to find a job. Tax attorneys seem to be a luxury item in a time of severe economic downturn, and I have been fighting to find a job since even before graduating with my tax masters from Georgetown. There have been some dark, deep, scary days where making it out of the apartment was reason enough to be happy, where laughing once in a while was a huge step. Now, even though I won’t be receiving a paycheck for my work, at least I will be living a normal-ish life, waking up in the morning instead of past noon, making myself go somewhere else to get a job done, and using my legal mind. Regardless of payment, the self-fulfillment is sustenance enough for now.

Ever ready to put myself into a celebretory mood these days, today I gave myself over to just that: celebrating. This generally means eating whatever I want, drinking however much I want, and working out as little as possible. I did a lot of eating, a good amount of drinking, and absolutely no working out (unless you count the walk back from the Watergate, which took about 45 minutes), so it was a pretty full day.

All this celebration and eating did not cause me to stop baking cookies, however. Oh no. Only something much greater and much more epic than an abnormally full tummy will be able to deter me from my cookie-baking quest. In fact, the reason for the celebration gave me inspiration to look for a cookie that was a little more special than the rest, one that stood out above the crowd. Sure, this is only day 3, but you can only change the cookie so much before you start to see common themes, and this becomes apparant just by looking through the recipes. One cookie that stood out and pronounced “celebration” more than the others, both in finished product and in name, was this one, the Mexican wedding cake.

So far, this has been my favorite cookie to make. Easy to prepare, short cooking time, and you get to use your hands to mould the cookies. Plus, it tastes really freakin awesome. The dough of the cookies never actually came together until I pressed it between my palm and fingers, creating a football shaped pillow out of loosely held-together crumbs. This gave the cookies a heavenly light texture that absolutely dissolves once it hits your tongue, a sensation further enhanced by the thick coating of powdered sugar. The lightness of the cookies is further bolstered by the salty pistachios and the chewy tart cherries, which work together to create a contrasting symphony of textures and flavors.

Paired with a bottle of bubbly I picked up on a celebretory whim today, these cookies were definitely worth celebrating with.

Pistachio and Cherry Mexican Wedding Cakes
(original recipe Bon Appetit December 2006)

Ingredients
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar plus more for coating
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup shelled unsalted natural pistachios (about 4 ounces), chopped
1 cup dried tart cherries or dried cranberries
3 1/3 cups sifted cake flour
1 2/3 cups sifted all purpose flour

Preparation
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 3 heavy large baking sheets. Using electric mixer, beat 2 cups butter and 1 cup powdered sugar in large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla and salt, then pistachios and cherries. Using spatula, stir in all flour (do not overmix dough).

Shape dough by generous tablespoonfuls into football-shaped ovals. Place on prepared sheets, spacing 1 inch apart. Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until bottoms just begin to color, about 16 minutes. Cool cookies on sheets 10 minutes before coating.

Pour generous amount of powdered sugar into medium bowl. Working with 5 or 6 warm cookies at a time, add cookies to bowl of sugar; gently turn to coat thickly. Transfer cookies to sheet of waxed paper. Repeat to coat cookies with sugar again; cool completely. do ahead Can be made 4 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

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